While seniors come to terms with their last year as Harding students ending off-campus, Harding faculty members retiring at the end of the spring semester are also adjusting to the fact that their time at Harding was cut short.
While many faculty members set to retire were already preparing themselves to say their goodbyes, none of them were prepared for it to be this soon.
Dr. Cliff Ganus, professor of music and director of chorus, is retiring after 52 years as a Harding professor. He was looking forward to the remaining days of instruction in his classes and final performances with the Harding University Chorus.
“I was looking forward to exploring gospel songs with the hymnology students, observing their transformation into Stamps-Baxter songs, and then seeing a dramatic shift to a new wave of church music in the 1970s,” Ganus said. “I was looking forward to Chorus concerts, working with student directors and participating in Chorus campaigns in northern Europe. I was hoping to watch music history students discover why Verdi and Wagner were so significant.”
Although the material will still be covered through online instruction, Ganus said it will not be the same as experiencing and walking through those topics in person with his students.
Assistant professor of communication Steven Shaner said he was disheartened when he realized that his last semester would not be what he was planning.
“I was absolutely despondent and so disappointed,” Shaner said. “This was not the way I was planning to retire. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to my students.”
While sadness is a common emotion for everyone at this time, Honors College Dean Mike James — who will be retiring at the end of this semester — said he is looking at this time through a lens of potential and positivity.
“I would like to have had the ‘last chapel’ and all the other ‘lasts’ of a career, but the change is exhilarating,” James said. “I love the digital atmosphere, too.”
While there are silver linings to the changes for James, he said he will still miss the relationships that have come through the years.
Along with missing the friendships and memories, Ganus said he will miss the feeling of making an impact on the lives he encountered at Harding.
“I will miss seeing these wonderful students every day and working with my colleagues and knowing that I’m making a difference in some lives, in these relationships and interactions,” Ganus said.
Reflecting on his last year at Harding, Shaner agreed with Ganus and James about missing everything that Harding has offered over the years. He said he is disappointed that this is how his last year will end.
“I wish I would have been able to thank so many friends, colleagues and students for the wonderful experience that this was,” Shaner said.
Although their time at Harding is ending in an unexpected way, Ganus, James and Shaner said they are grateful for the time they had at Harding and will cherish the years they had working, growing and learning. “This is the best place in the world to work,” James said.